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NY-NJ Port Authority Says Ports Will Be ‘Dramatically Different’ by 2050

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey has unveiled a comprehensive 30-year plan that lays out a strategy to deal with the need for greater sustainability as it experiences record growth in cargo volume.

The “Port Master Plan 2050” offers a roadmap for the next generation of land-use and infrastructure development projects at the port complex that will allow it to remain among the nation’s leading maritime gateways, while continuing to generate hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity.

The new framework aims to build on the previous plan that saw the raising of the Bayonne Bridge, port channels deepened to 50 feet, container terminals expanded, realignment of and capacity enhancements to port roadways and the completion of the port’s $600 million ExpressRail network.

“Our predecessors had the foresight to clearly understand the value of the port to regional jobs and economic activity and made substantial investments that today are paying huge dividends,” said Port Authority chairman Kevin O’Toole. “This plan will continue the momentum we have built and drive this port to new heights that two decades ago would have seemed impossible to achieve.”

During the first five months of 2019, the port set a new all-time record for cargo during that period, handling 3.04 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units). The container facilities account for approximately 70 percent of the Port Authority’s port land acreage. The master plan said with container volumes projected to double or triple over the next 30-year time frame, it is critical for the Port Authority to assess the location and distribution of future container capacity.

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Average annual growth ranges from 2.1 percent under low forecast assumptions to 3.4 percent under high forecast assumptions. Around 85 percent of inbound container activity is currently destined for the local truck market. Achieving long-term growth above and beyond the organic growth in local consumption hinges on capturing a larger share of imports destined for inland distribution centers, the plan said. To accomplish this, Port Authority facilities must compete on price and service reliability with other Atlantic Coast ports.

Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton said the new master plan “also ensures sustainability and resiliency as key goals and commits the port to enduring partnerships with our host communities.”

The primary objectives of the master plan are to provide opportunities for growth through stakeholder engagement, improve the port’s commercial value by maximizing lease revenue, serving as an economic engine for the region, and to promote environmentally sustainable operations.

The Port Authority will tap the latest technology to drive down diesel emissions, minimize congestion and curb environmental impacts at its facilities, including reducing emissions and looking to low-energy operations. In addition, the Port Authority will support alternate energy sectors with marine facilities for alternate fuels such as offshore wind and liquid natural gas.

With the completion of the plan, the Port Authority will now begin implementing the key findings and recommendations. Specific short- and long-term actions were proposed for each of the port’s five facilities–Port Newark, Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminal, Port Jersey Port Authority Marine Terminal, Howland Hook Marine Terminal and Brooklyn Port Authority Marine Terminal.

“The port in 2050 will be dramatically different,” the master plan said. “The number of containers will more than double, ships will be bigger than we can currently imagine, trucks and cars may be driving themselves off the terminal, roads and rail links will be improved, tidal surges will be higher, land area may need to be larger, there will be thousands more jobs, access to information will be immediate and comprehensive–and 2020 will be a distant memory.”